Old friends reunite to make music for the New Baltimore Camerata

The New Baltimore



Program: works by Vivaldi, Haydn, Hindemith, Debussy and Weber.

Where: Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.


When: Sunday at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets: Free.

Call: 433-8803.

Robert Schumann was trained as a lawyer, Hector Berlioz as a doctor and Charles Ives was one of the 20th century's great innovators not just in music but in designing life insurance. So it's not exactly unheard of that the three members of the New Baltimore Camerata, who will give a concert at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, are more than "just" musicians: Flutist Ellen Finkelstein is a prosecutor for the city; pianist Frederick Minger is a computer scientist; and cellist Donald Watts, while he teaches music at Towson State University, is also a certified public accountant.

Finkelstein (she was one of the founding members of the celebrated Penn Contemporary Players in Philadelphia) and Minger (he played piano and organ for the Baltimore Symphony) were professional musicians who just decided to go into more lucrative careers.

"I decided to go to law school when my rent was raised," Finkelstein says jokingly. "I was a working musician who didn't earn a whole lot."

The group met 20 years ago when they were faculty members of the Towson State music department. And for a while after Finkelstein and Minger left there, they remained close friends, often making music together. But their musical activities declined when Finkelstein graduated from law school in 1978 and entered the prosecutor's office.

The three friends made a first step at getting back together musically a few years ago when they learned of the tragic early death of a friend from cancer -- Rosemarie Bottalico, who had once been the solo harpist of the BSO and who had moved to Australia with her husband. Bottalico had been a member with Finkelstein and another cellist of a group called the Baltimore Camerata.


"Fred, Don and I would reminisce about Rosemarie and then we would recall what it was like to play together," Finkelstein says. "Finally, I told them both that I was dying to start playing again and they said they were too. We decided to name the group the New Camerata in memory of Rosemarie."

When they rehearsed for their first concert together since 1975, Finkelstein says, "It was a real high. We really needed it for our souls. We used to play because we were musicians, now we're doing it because we need to do it."